Sun, May 30, 2004 - Page 2 News List

DPP legislators crusade to protect personal data

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taking action to address a recent furor over fraud cases, three Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators yesterday presented the draft of an amendment to the Computer-Processed Personal Data Protection Law (電腦處理個人資料保護法), the nation's main legislation dealing with personal data protection.

The amendment, drafted by DPP legislators Chen Chao-lung (陳朝龍) and Yu Jan-daw (余政道) and DPP caucus whip Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯), calls for broader application of the privacy law and for heavier punishments against people selling sensitive information.

Article 33 of the law currently states that "a person with an intention to seek profits ... shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than two years, detention, or, in addition thereto, a fine of not more than NT$40,000."

By comparison, the amendment calls for a jail term of one to seven years and/or a fine with a NT$1 million upper limit.

"We think that one to seven years gives the legal system more flexibility, as well as ensuring heavier punishments for offenders," Tsai said.

The legislators also want to expand the scope of the protection law. The protection law only covers cases within eight major industries and organizations: hospitals, schools, credit investigation, telecommunications, financial services, securities, insurance and mass media.

As a result, offenses occurring outside those areas are not being covered, the legislators said.

They proposed yesterday that the law be renamed the "Personal Protection Law" (個人資料保護法) and that the coverage requirements should be eliminated so that it applies to all instances of protection violation.

David Liu (劉佐國), a senior specialist at the Ministry of Justice, said the ministry supported the idea that the law be revised to give more comprehensive coverage. He quoted a case where a girl wished to sue a video store for releasing video recordings of her to an unwelcome suitor. However, because video stores don't fall under the eight major industries currently covered, the girl could do nothing.

The ministry has recently submitted a report, complete with suggestions to improve the situation, to the Executive Yuan.

The three legislators said that the draft amendment has been sent to the Executive Yuan for review. If the proposal successfully passes the review in the Executive Yuan, the legislators said to expect the amendment's introduction to the Legislative Yuan in the fall, during the next legislative session, at the earliest.

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